When you think of coffee, you instantly think of an energy boost. Something that skyrockets your energy from a zero to maybe an eight. When we wake up in the morning, we all need that magic energy boost that lifts our mood up and helps us get through the day.
Coffee contains some nutrients which are useful to the body like, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-3, magnesium, and various antioxidants.
Another thing coffee contains is caffeine, a natural stimulant mostly found in tea and cocoa plants. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance. It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness.
Caffeine’s half-life is between four to six hours, which is the time period when it affects people.
People who regularly consume caffeine for a long period of time and then abruptly stop taking it experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms which vary person to person. It usually lasts two to nine days and starts twelve to twenty-four hours after you stopped taking caffeine. The more your intake of caffeine, the worse the withdrawal symptoms you experience.
Fortunately, caffeine withdrawal doesn’t last very long, and the symptoms are considerably very mild.
How much caffeine is too much caffeine?
Ever wondered how much caffeine is contained in a cup of coffee?
A cup of coffee contains on average 95 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Most recommendations say that 200-400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine is safe for most healthy adults to have per day, which is roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee. Worldwide experts estimate that people consume around 2.25 billion cups of coffee per day.
It’s okay to consume 200mg of caffeine per day, 300mg, 400mg, and 500mg are also within the safe zone but once you’ve gone past that, it becomes a danger zone. 600mg is a risky amount to consume, that’s up to seven cups of coffee.
Are some people more prone to caffeine withdrawal?
When People with caffeine sensitivity take in small amount of caffeine, they experience an intense adrenaline rush which leads to symptoms such as; anxiety, headaches, tremors, insomnia and palpitations.
These are some conditions that make people more sensitive to the effects of caffeine:
- Gender: ‘women naturally metabolize caffeine more quickly than men’ suggests, research in progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Because caffeine takes longer to process in men, it stays in their system and can produce side effects for a longer period.
- Medication: there are some types of medication that interact with caffeine, making its side effects more pronounced. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see whether any of your meds may be affecting how your body processes caffeine.
- Genetics: Your genetic make-up alone can make you hyper sensitive to caffeine. Genes also alter the body’s adaptive responses to long-term caffeine use. There are two stretches of DNA linked with high caffeine consumption that contain two genes that are thought to be highly likely involved in the way the body processes caffeine.
- Baseline anxiety: If you already have anxiety or high levels of stress, caffeine can worsen the symptoms you’re already experiencing. It promotes panic attacks, sleep loss/insomnia, and worsened symptoms of anxiety in people with anxiety disorders.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms
If you’re an avid coffee, tea or energy drink consumer, then you’re aware of how addictive it can be. If you were deprived of your daily dose of coffee, you’ll start to experience some symptoms common with caffeine withdrawal. Here’s a few:
- Headaches: you’ll start to feel a gnawing pain and pressure behind your eyes which then moves up the front of your head. You’ll have migraine-like symptoms and a widespread feeling of throbbing pain. You wouldn’t want to move too much so as not to aggravate the intensity of the pain.
- Sleepiness: you wouldn’t be able to keep your eyes open. You’ll just feel drowsy most of the time.
- Irritability: Everything and anyone gets on your last nerve and you’ll just feel sensitive.
- Lethargy: in your dopamine levels. because forget about being productive at this stage you’ll be unmotivated to do anything from the sudden drop
- Depression: Caffeine withdrawal can take away all hopes for living. If you struggle with depression this could be a big issue.
- Lack of concentration: you start to become forgetful and studying becomes hard at this stage.
- Insomnia: You wouldn’t be able to fall asleep even if you feel super tired which can take a toll on your mind and functionality/activeness.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Some people won’t even be able to think about food during the first days of withdrawal which compounds the feeling of lethargy. And when they eventually take in something, it becomes hard to keep it down.
- Heart Rhythm Abnormalities: Since caffeine also stimulates the heart muscle, some people experience changes in their heart rhythm during withdrawal. Low blood pressure and palpitations have both been recorded.
- Flu-like symptoms: People withdrawing from caffeine have reported stuffy nose, blocked sinuses, and sinus pressure.
How long does coffee withdrawal last?
The more coffee you consume, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will become. Symptoms of withdrawal begin twelve to twenty-four hours after the last coffee intake and can last two to nine days. Caffeine withdrawal headaches is the most common and dominant symptom of caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal headaches can start within twelve hours of stopping caffeine and are likely to be at their worst twenty to fifty-one hours after your last caffeine fix.
How to treat withdrawal symptoms
- Gradually reduce your consumption of caffeine rather than stopping it abruptly. This can reduce the severity of the symptoms although it may take longer for them to go away completely. Make a plan and keep a record to help you stay on track and reduce how much caffeine you have each day over two to three weeks or longer if needed.
- Headaches can be treated with medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Remember to avoid medications containing caffeine. Taking medications for around 2-3 weeks could cause another surge of headaches.
- Rest and get plenty of sleep
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as caffeine can leave you dehydrated.
- Acupressure is another form of therapy based on the traditional acupuncture which involves manipulating certain pressure points in the body. It helps reduce headaches by improving blood circulation and reducing muscle tension.
- Applying topical menthol to numb the skin and reduce pain.
- Applying ice reduces pain and constricts the underlying vessels of the area applied slowing the transmission of nerve signals.
Overall, taking coffee can be a great way to stay active and productive. It also has its health benefits. But too much intake of coffee could lead to an addiction and eventually caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms affect different people in different ways. Some may be mild while some, severe depending on their condition. It takes a while to overcome caffeine withdrawal but with time and monitored efforts it can be possible.